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Big Issue vendor Eamonn Kelly reunited with Prince William at Buckingham Palace garden party

The Cambridge Big Issue vendor was one of 8,000 people invited to the Buckingham Palace garden party but Prince William still remembered him after Kelly welcomed the royal into his home last year

Big Issue vendor Eammon Kelly and charity boss Mark Allan at the Buckingham Palace garden party

Big Issue vendor Eammon Kelly (left) was invited to the Buckingham Palace garden party alongside Jimmy's Cambridge boss Mark Allan as part of King Charles' coronation celebrations. Image: Jimmy's Cambridge

A Big Issue vendor who once welcomed Prince William to his home was reunited with the royal at the Buckingham Palace garden party this week.

Cambridge seller Eamonn Kelly, 52, was one of 8,000 people invited to the second garden party held on Tuesday in honour of King Charles’ coronation.

Kelly attended the event alongside Mark Allan, the chief executive of homelessness charity Jimmy’s Cambridge, after the pair both met Prince of Wales William and Princess of Wales Kate last summer.

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The vendor, who lives in a modular home as part of the support he receives from Jimmy’s, clearly left an impression on William.

“It was brilliant, William pushed his way through the crowds to come and shake my hand,” said Kelly, who sells the magazine outside Sainsbury’s on Sidney Street in Cambridge.

“He told me thanks for coming. It was great to see him again and it was a privilege to be asked by someone like that coming from where I’ve come from.

“I’ve come from the bottom right up to the top, coming off the streets after years and years and getting back to normality.”

Eamonn Kelly Buckingham Palace garden party
Eamonn Kelly first met Prince William last year when he and wife Kate visited the Big Issue vendor’s modular home. Image: Jimmy’s Cambridge

Kelly was sleeping rough and battling drug addiction before moving into a modular home at Jimmy’s Cambridge in 2020.

It proved to be a transformative moment for the veteran vendor, who has sold the magazine for more than 15 years.

He’s now managed to beat his addiction and is working with Jimmy’s, giving talks to explain his story of homelessness.

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Kelly’s transformation was even given the royal seal of approval when he welcomed the royals to his modular home last year.

William and Kate spent 45 minutes chatting to the vendor on his sofa on June 23 and Kelly said he connected with William who had just tried his hand at selling the magazine in central London.

Eamonn is a familiar sight in Cambridge city centre. Image: Onur Pinar

“It was hard but when the pandemic hit that’s when I thought to myself, ‘Man, I need to stop’,” said Eamonn.

“What Jimmy’s does for homeless people is just unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for a better set of people.”

Jimmy’s boss Allan added: “It is a great recognition for Jimmy’s Cambridge to be invited to such an event, and I was really pleased I could go with one of our residents who could experience this once in a lifetime opportunity too.

“There was a really positive atmosphere, lovely tea and cakes, and the forecast downpour of rain didn’t happen!”

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